Caution: Keyword Match Type Curveballs Coming Your Way

Not-yet-breaking-news!  Be prepared to spend more time working in your AdWords account, because Google is soon to release a change to keyword match types that will require a lot more attention to previously low-risk keywords.

One of the first things you learn as a PPC analyst is the difference between match types in Google AdWords.  You’ve got your exact match: safe, reliable, no-frills, thrills, or surprises…you get exactly what you pay for.  You’ve got phrase match, which adds a little intrigue to the mix, opening up new possibilities, letting you test your balance with training wheels on.  And then there are the broad matches, the wild card risk takers of the keyword world.  All essential players in an optimized PPC account, all requiring their own unique strategy for management.

But now Google is throwing us a curve ball, known as “near-exact” and “near-phrase” match types, coming soon to an AdWords account near you.  What does this mean?  With near exact and near phrase match types, your keywords will match with plurals, acronyms, abbreviations, and misspellings of your keywords.  What continues to distinguish this matching from the two forms of broad matching is that your near phrase and near exact keywords will not show for synonyms of your keywords as they do for broad match.

As a long time PPC geek, this *addition* to the AdWords match type arsenal is quite welcome.  Gone will be the days of racking our brains for every plural, misspelled, or mis-typed possibility for a keyword to add to an account.  This should save some time in keyword list building and will easily open up the reach of our keywords, allowing for higher impression and click volume potential.

That being said, there are certainly some words of caution to be heeded before going full speed ahead with near-phrase and near-exact.  The increased liberality of these match types (beyond traditional phrase and exact) will mean that advertisers should be paying more attention than ever to their search query reports, diligently making sure that these broader match types are continuing to deliver quality traffic and not showing ads for low relevancy search queries.

Another rumored aspect of this match type switch up from AdWords is that, while it will initially be a feature that you can opt out of using, eventually *all* accounts will be transitioned to near-phrase and near-exact…meaning that traditional phrase and exact match types will no longer be available to AdWords users.  My guess is that a forced migration such as this would be quite disappointing to the PPC community, this geek included.  Additions to the arsenal for paid search success are always welcome.  On the other hand, sweeping changes aimed, ultimately, at increasing advertising spend and profit for the advertising platforms without regard to the impact on the many small and medium sized businesses utilizing the platform…not so welcome.

Stay tuned to the Leverage Lowdown as this story breaks!

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